Ex NFL QB Counts on MVP Caretaker Team for Memory Care
Bart Starr Can’t Remember His Career…Yet
Bart Starr is 81. He began forgetting things about five years ago, losing track of where he was intending on going, or getting lost while driving.
Before suffering two strokes, a heart attack, and four seizures in September of 2014, Bart Starr was an 80 year old man who still jogged and worked out in his home gym. Before health complications Bart Starr had a lifetime of fond memories, being a former NFL Super Bowl Champion and living legend.
Now he doesn’t recognize the number 15 on the cover of old Sports Illustrated covers, himself.
“You know, Bart may grasp it at times, but he’s just not fully conscious of his career or anything.”
This comes from Starr’s wife of 64 years, Cherry, also 81, who was ready to give up hope when the doctors asked her about placing Bart on life support. It’s hard to believe anyone making through after suffering multiple strokes, seizures, and a heart attack, let alone an 80 year old man. But against all odds, the old quarterback made it through the night, and no one is giving up hope now.
Today Bart Starr is rehabilitating in his own form of memory care. Despite significant memory loss, Starr still watches every game of his former team, the Green Bay packers, and three times a day he says “Here we go.” when seeing an NFL quarterback about to take a snap and run a play. When watching part of the Packers 1967 NFL Championship with his father recently, Bart Jr. explained how his father doesn’t seem to remember playing,
“It’s not verbal, but he might understand more than we realize.”
Since spending two months in the hospital, Starr now lives back at home with Cherry. She is his primary memory care caregiver, along with a team that helps him improve everyday. He has begun speaking, rehabilitating, and regaining his cognition. Like many who suffer from cognitive impairment, he often suffers from sundown syndrome around dinnertime. Confusion and anxiety send him into a fit of flailing arms, and profanity that he cannot control. His wife Cherry knows it isn’t her Bart, and laughs it off.
Months ago, Starr couldn’t walk. His wife and caretakers would tell him “The snap count is on three.” referencing a quarterback’s cadence. His memory care team would lift him up on three. Now, his caretakers tell him the snap count is on three, and he gets out of his chair under his own power and walks where he needs to.
The ultimate goal of Starr’s MVP team of caretakers is to get him strong enough-both mentally and physically- to attend the Thanksgiving Night number retiring of another former Packers’ QB Brett Favre. Favre and Starr had developed a close relationship over the years, and everyone close to Starr works everyday to get him back on his old field, in front of his fans, where he made memories, one more time.
Starr’s story is a true story of how support, care, love, and hope can mean survival and success in the world of memory care and assisted living. It is a reminder that everyone has a lifetime full of memories, even if they can’t remember them. If you know someone who has dementia or alzheimer’s, call Tennyson court for information on memory care, or what it’s like living in a Buffalo or WNY memory care facility.
We recommend everyone read the full story, but especially those who know what it means to deal with the memory loss of a loved one.